It’s somewhat fascinating to me that my education graduate program focused so much on Lev Vygotsky. Lev’s like this Russian guy living in the late 1800s and all these 1960 American school programs sort of exhume his ideas and are like, “yes! that’s how we should teach! that’s who we are going to teach! everyone in america should teach like this!” Oddly, Maria Montessori, an Italian from the late 1800s, was never mentioned in my program. Maybe it was just my grad program, but I find this weird. And, by weird, I mean sexist.
I am tempted to conclude that the American education system didn’t like Montessori because she was a woman and the principals in like every school I knew of when I was growing up were men, but maybe that’s too simple and too biased (but maybe not).
Or maybe it was because she was a bit too socialist for post-1950s, red-list America or maybe because she got a little tied up with Mussolini (who she ditched for Gandhi. Nice choice MM) but still a Russian from the late 1800s! Come on! Can you get any more communist?
It seems that Vygotsky was seen as a Marxist in his own country but in America in the 1980s, he was treated as someone who just loved socializing (reference 1)! Like, “Yeah he’s a little too share-y, but he’s super good at conversation!”
But, why not Montessori? Why is she just gaining popularity now? And still gaining popularity rather, slowly. Like, when I tell people I teach at a Montessori school they don’t know what I mean. Is this just an east coast thing? I know of a writer about my age who teaches at a Montessori-farm-school in New Mexico and it makes me wonder if California or the west coast is a bit more earthy about education than we are over here in the land of ice and anger?
I don’t know. I mean if you look back at education in America a lot of it has to do with destroying Native American’s culture, making them silence their language and learn white ways. It was really a form of conquer. Then, it was about making classrooms into factories. And, now, what is it? I don’t know. I really don’t. Maybe it’s really cool now.
So, going back to grad school, when I was learning this stuff, I was like, yeah socializing in order to learn is a great idea! (Vygotsky’s Social Learning Theory) Yeah, people need to speak ideas to understand them! (Vygotsky’s ideas on Public vs. Private Speech), but now, I’m like, no! NO! NO MORE TALKING. STOP TALKING. PLEASE EVERYONE IN THE WORLD STOP TALKING. Just focus. Get to that glorious Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi flow state. We should be quiet and thoughtful and be just at the point of what Csikszentmihalyi calls arousal, that edge of interest and challenge that will make us so enganged, so concentrated and so focused we hardly know time is happening. We step aside ourself and concentrate. I love this. This is all I want right now. But, it does require high skills to get there. So how do we create flow while learning low skills? Like the pincer grasp? Or pronouncing letter sounds? I don’t know. But, that’s what I’m thinking about a lot right now.